One of the best ways for a business to supplement their workforce is through the use of freelancers. This allows a business to shrink or grow their workforce based on the demands of the business. It is a cost-effective way to operate, but it does have some issues that can cause problems if not handled properly. Among those issues is how to manage the freelancers that work for the business.
Not everyone who is running a business that utilizes freelancers is ready for the issues that arise from their use. There are tools available that make it easier to do this. Learning what the tools are and how they can help is a key to any business operating with freelancers.
How to Use Freelancers
It is important to understand that freelancers are independent contractors. They are not employees of the business. The only connection they have to the business is the contract they sign with the business. When the contract is completed, the freelancer and the business part ways.
Being an independent contractor does not mean the freelancer can do things the way they want to. The business still has control over the work of the freelancer. That means they need to make sure they have a plan for managing the work of the freelancer. That plan focuses on different areas.
- Understanding the Freelancer – To manage the freelancer, a business must understand why they are doing this type of work. They may do it for money or they may do it to gain new skills. They may do it to keep busy. Understanding why a person takes a job helps the manager find the right ways to motivate them.
- Set the Rules – A freelancer must operate under a set of rules for the business. Even if they are not employees they represent the business. The rules need to include what is expected of their work and what the consequences and rewards are.
- Training – Freelancers may have an expertise in some area, but that does not make them experts in the way the business that hires them operates. They still need to have training to make sure they are doing the things the way the business wants them done.
- Make it Part of the Team – Even though freelancers come and go, they still need to feel like they are part of the team. Finding ways to include them can help them gain a personal investment into the work they do.
These are the things a business can do to manage the individuals. In order to accomplish many of these things, getting the right tools is important.
Tools to Manage Freelancers
Freelancers may or may not work at the place of business. Many of them operate remotely from the business. Using certain tools can help the business get the most out of their freelancers and can make it easier to manage the work they do.
The tools start with communication. The more communicate the team manager has with the freelancers, the easier it is to get the work that is needed from them done. A tool such as Uberconference that allows screen sharing is the perfect way it enhance the communication with freelancers. These are some of the ways it does this.
- Sharing of Screens – A tool like this allows people to work together remotely at the same time. The flow of information is continuous within the team. Everyone, including the freelancers sees the same things.
- Information Sharing – When people are able to participate in video conference or teleconference calls with freelancers, they are able to work together as a team. People become familiar with the others that they are working with.
- Scheduling – Scheduled meetings and other activities can enhance the work of all members of the team.
Other tools for communication include:
- Dropbox – This allows people to easily send and share large documents, images and files. It is an easy way for people to work on projects as a team.
- Invoice Generator – Everyone, including freelancers expects to be paid. This type of app can make it easier for the business to create, pay and receive payments from others.
- Freedcamp – This tool is a great way to manage the projects that involve multiple people.
- Jing – This is a tool that helps with training through the sharing of training videos. Freelancers can learn the same things as everyone else in the business through the videos.
A good manager takes advantage of all the tools they can find to communicate effectively with their team. That does not mean they need to use every tool that they find. A good manager will use the tools that fit their business and how they use their freelancers.
Following up on Freelancers
It is important that a team manager makes his team ware of what they are doing well and where they need to improve. This is especially true of freelancers. This is done through feedback. Traditional employees face regular reviews. Freelancers are not always around long enough for an annual raise review, so the business needs other ways to give feedback. Tools such as 15Five are a way that businesses can provide feedback to their employees including freelancers. It also allows the freelancers to give feedback about the business. This type of information allows both the freelancer and the business to improve the way things are done. Allowing people a consistent opportunity to provide feedback also is a great way to motivate them to do more for the business.
There is nothing wrong with turning to freelancers to help a business. It is not a sign that they do not have enough employees to do the work they have. It means that the business realizes that there are times when additional help is needed. If that help is properly managed, the business benefits. When freelancers are given the freedom to do as they please, the business usually suffers. Businesses that want success from freelancers will learn how to manage them. They will give the freelancers the tools needed to do the work in the most effective way. They will make sure they and all employees have the tools they need to get the job done. It is something that the most successful businesses have done for a long time.